Saturday, 31 August 2013

This article is a perfect example of what's gone wrong in the corporate marketing world -  CMO optimism at an all time high and yet only 1/3 can demonstrate the quantitative impact of their marketing spend.

Here's a handy pie chart on what CMO's in this survey reported about their social media spend.
Social media is even worse. Only 15% can report proven quantitative impact from their social media marketing spend. What does this mean? It means corporates are spending huge money on marketing budgets with no quantifiable return on investment. Can you say Brand Awareness ... the biggest boondoggle in marketing history. Corporate marketing has moved so far away from direct marketing principles there is no longer pressure to prove your marketing budget increased sales. No "Return On Investment" required...or even possible in many instances.

So why do I care?? Because this is bleeding over into fundraising. The big charities are buying into the nonsense being sold to them by corporate agencies. Awareness is never a bad thing. But if you can't connect the money spent on Brand Awareness to direct results you are into really murky water.

Medium and small charities in particular can't afford this "vanity spend". Direct marketing is about awareness. But it's about targeting the audience most likely to give and raising awareness among them. I've been absolutely appalled by the low results some charities settle for in relation to the money they're spending. You can explain away a low performing campaign as "awareness building" or you can identify it for what it is...a failed direct marketing campaign. Learn from it and move on. But don't try and pretend you've "Built Brand Awareness" when all you've done is waste money on a poorly performing campaign. And stop hiring the agencies* that use Brand Awareness to explain under performing campaigns. The corporate world are happily drinking the KoolAid and throwing good money after bad. Let them keep experimenting and when they finally find something that has demonstrable, quantifiable, bottom line results then we can look at adapting it for fundraising.

* I feel I must defend my agency friends here. There are many very fine agencies who specialise in charity marketing. I think it was Mark Phillips at BlueFrog in London who said "We live and die by our results." This is very true of most agencies who solely serve the charity sector. They are directly focused on both short-term and long-term results. Awareness is built into their campaigns but ultimately they judge everything using good old-fashioned metrics which tell us how many donors they acquired, how much money they raised and the ROI, overall, upfront, over time and by segment. My best advice is to use an agency who specialises in charity work not one that does charity marketing as a part of their portfolio.

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